Disney quotes to make you feel better

You know those kettles that whistle when they've boiled? I feel like one of them right now. This past month has sped by in a blur of deadlines, paperwork, appointments and tests. I look back to the start of July and can barely believe that was only four weeks ago. The worst part is it's not even over yet - the headache of my personal and professional life colliding together looks set to carry right on into August. As the pressure mounts, I'm getting closer and closer to whistling point. 

At times like this, I try to focus on the words of that great philosopher, Nick Miller: "Life sucks! And then it gets better, and then it sucks again."

So, with those inspiring words in mind, I've decided to stop wallowing and banish my blues (as well as the hundreds of thoughts and worries buzzing around inside my head) by writing down some of my favourite Disney quotes. I'm also listening to the Brave soundtrack while I type this. Take that, real life and responsibilities*. 

"But, Mother, I don't want to grow up."

Peter Pan.

"Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten."

Lilo & Stitch.

"There are those who say fate is something beyond our command. That destiny is not our own, but I know better. Our fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it."


"Thank you for taking care of my bride, peasants."


"Even miracles take a little time."


Do you have a favourite Disney quote? I would
really love if you shared some of your favourites in the comments below. It is literally impossible to be sad while you're thinking about Disney. Fact.

*Listening to the Brave soundtrack reminded me of the time I went to the real life, red carpet Disney premi√®re in Edinburgh - a memory that has definitely perked up my Monday. 


While I've ticked a few places off, I haven't travelled anywhere near as much as I'd like. I'm a little jealous of people who went to exotic places on their family summer holidays - as a Northern Irish girl living in Scotland, summer holidays were spent in the slightly less exotic surroundings of Limavady (a day trip to Portrush was a pretty big deal). But that hasn't killed my sense of adventure: I celebrated my 21st by travelling to Paris and Berlin, and a lot of savings since have been spent on impulsive trips to Europe or nipping down to London for long weekends.

I have a holiday to FLORIDA!! booked this October, but it still feels so far away that I was excited to be tagged by the lovely Katy in her wanderlust tag post. While October still feels like a lifetime away, I can try to sooth my holiday itch by reminiscing about the holidays I've already been on - that or writing this will give me the push I need to get back on the Easyjet website and find the next cheapest flights out of Glasgow!

1. Your most treasured passport stamp?

I'm disappointed to admit that I've not got any passport stamps. I think this is because I have mainly travelled within the EU so far - but I did go to Norway last year, which isn't in the EU, and I still didn't get a stamp for some reason. This post may be about to reveal my shockingly poor knowledge of European relations...

2. Can you recite your passport number from memory if asked?
No! I'm genuinely surprised that other people can. It should be mentioned that I still don't know my own mobile number off by heart.
3. Preferred method of travel: planes, trains or automobiles?
I have to say planes because it means I'm going somewhere exciting! As someone who uses buses on a regular basis though, there is still a certain excitement about using the train to go somewhere - even if it's just going to an event for work, I do feel a little fancier on the train. How sad is that?

4. Top 3 travel items?
I'd have to pick a good book for the plane (I always bring a few books with me then forget to read them once I've arrived at the hotel, but reading on the place is essential), a sun block combo of sunscreen (factor 50, y'all), sunglasses and a big hat (I know this is 3 items and so technically cheating, but my milk bottle skin insists on it) and a camera (for taking close to a bazillion photographs on every single holiday).

5. Hostel or hotel?
As much as I love the luxury of a hotel, I've actually stayed in a few really nice hostels. In particular, if you ever visit Berlin, I highly recommend the EastSeven Hostel in Prenzlauer Berg. I adored this cheap, friendly and cool hostel and have wonderful memories of cooking up meals in the shared kitchen (a budget friendly tip, FYI), eating outside in the leafy garden filled with picnic tables and the open air cinema across the street (the Lidl selling cheap as chips J√§germeister at the end of the road was appreciated too).

6. Are you a repeat visit or do you explore new places?
I have tried to keep it varied by visiting at least one or two new places every year since I turned 21, but I have also been to Paris and London a few times each since then. And I'd go back to Berlin in a heartbeat. And Amsterdam. Dublin too. I wouldn't say no to Oslo either.

7. Do you read up on your destination (culture, history, safety) or do you wing it?
I used to read up about the city I was visiting in detail when I was a student, making a note of every little thing, but now I work full time I don't bother - I'll have a quick skim through a few articles the day or two before, then just go for it. I've found that sometimes the most memorable moments on holiday are a result of a tip from a local rather than a guidebook recommendation.

I have to admit though, winging it is reserved for European holidays - I've been warned that Florida is not a holiday you can just make up as you go along and will require some serious research!

8. Favourite travel website?
I recommend Lonely Planet. I have a couple of their travel guides and they're really easy to skim through and have some quirky suggestions for activities and places to visit.

9. Where would you recommend a friend to visit? Name the city and why.
It depends on the friend!

I can't decide between Berlin, Amsterdam and Dublin - they're cheap, fun and friendly, and have a creative energy which makes the city feel exciting. I like places with quirky bars, interesting history and street art, so Berlin, Amsterdam and Dublin tick my boxes. They're also (especially Amsterdam) small and easy to walk or cycle around, which is nice when you only have a few days somewhere.

10. You're leaving tomorrow, money is no option, where are you going?
New York, New York! It's next on my travel bucket list, after Florida. It's also a dream of mine to spend a chunk of my summer travelling around Europe, hopping from train to train, soaking up the different culture in each new place.

I know it's a bit of a cop out but I tag
you! I'm nosey and I love hearing about other people's adventures, so, if you're reading this and decide to write your own wanderlust tag post, please leave a link in the comments below so I can read your post.

Oh, and, by the way, this is the beautiful Antrim coast - proving summer holidays in Northern Ireland are actually pretty great.

How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran

When I read How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran I had tears running down my face. The book is so funny, outrageous and honest that I couldn't stop reading sections out loud to my long-suffering boyfriend. I literally couldn't stop. 'Oh my god, listen to this!' 'You have to hear this bit.' 'No, seriously, listen to this - I swear it's the last bit...' 'Oh my god, you have to listen to this bit!'. Now, I admit, it annoys me when a book is a huge success and that writer can't release anything else without constant comparison. Look at poor John Green. So I do feel a little guilty for starting this review by mentioning Moran's earlier work - but I think it's relevant for anyone who has read How To Be A Woman. Despite Moran starting How To Build A Girl with a note to say 'This is a work of fiction... Johanna is not me... This is a novel and it is all fictitious', I couldn't help but feel I was reading How To Be A Woman: Part 2 for large sections of the novel.

How To Build A Girl follows Johanna Morrigan, an overweight, unpopular teenager from Wolverhampton, who dreams of saving her family from destitution by becoming a music journalist. Johanna reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde, an eccentric, heavy drinking goth with a passion for liquid eyeliner and having lots of sex. Dolly starts working at music magazine DM&E as a freelance reviewer, goes to parties with journalists and musicians, and tries to put as much distance between her new persona and pathetic Johanna Morrigan as she can. As Dolly crashes forward, it becomes clear that the parts Johanna assumed most important in building a girl (mainly cassette tapes rented from the local library, MD 20/20 and vitriolic writing) fall a little short in her estimations.

Despite, perhaps unfair, comparisons to How To Be A Woman, I did really enjoy reading this novel. Moran's writing is hilarious, observant and ridiculous - I laughed so loud on the bus a few times that strangers gave me funny looks. Johanna is an incredibly endearing protagonist: despite her horrible situation (her family have had their already meagre benefits cut, while her hapless dad continues to dream of being a rock star and her mum is struggling with postnatal depression), Johanna remains cheerful. She never mopes or cries or complains - she simply gets on with it. I liked the strange, little insights into life with her family: singing songs from Annie with her brothers; keeping a (particularly disgusting) snail farm in the garden; lying at the bottom of the stairs pretending to be dead to get undivided attention for her parents. As a novel with a teenage protagonist, these snapshots really evoked that unique boredom and feeling of being powerless that come with childhood.

As well as the undeniable similarities in their stories, the main reason I sometimes felt like I was reading How To Be A Woman all over again is how strong Moran's voice is in the novel. Even though I wanted to believe I was reading Johanna's words, it was difficult with Moran shouting and swearing at me. I love Moran, but in a work of fiction I expected a little less of her. While having her first cigarette and feeling chronically self-conscious about her own appearance felt like the words of a 17 year old, I couldn't convince myself that other sections were written by anyone other than a woman in her thirties. The sex scenes in particular tested my belief. Yes, they were hilarious. No, I will never be able to look at a draught excluder in the same way ever again. But the confidence and nonchalance of the sex seemed at odds with a - very awkward - girl who had just lost her virginity weeks before. Perhaps Moran was this self-assured at 17 - but I doubt many other girls are.

However, considering how much I like Moran's writing, hearing her voice throughout wasn't a deal breaker for me. In fact, I'm glad that Moran's eloquent thoughts on poverty and politics featured so heavily. There is a particularly wonderful speech from a musician named John Kite about "the one big difference between the rich and the poor" which I fell a little in love with - I even had to read it out loud to my boyfriend (sorry, Sam).

With a voice that reminded me so much of How To Be A Woman, I really missed the variety of topics and female support which is missing in How To Build A Girl (there are a lot of men in this book, and the few women featured are annoyingly obsessed with having sex with those men). If you like Moran's work then I would recommend it, but if you've never read her writing before and want to see what all the fuss is about, I would read How To Be A Woman first.

Five quotes from children's literature

When I published my first 'Five quotes from...' post last month, I knew I would inevitably share five quotes from children's literature. While I don't tend to read children's literature much, it undeniably holds a special place in my bookcase. I took a Children's Literature class while I was at university and it was my favourite class in four years - in amongst the general headache of studying for my Honours, tutorials on Treasure Island and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland were a definite highlight! It was tough only picking five books but I hope you like the ones I decided on. I'm not going to lie - I was almost tearing up reading some of these quotes again! 

“There is no place like home.” 

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum.

"The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village."

Matilda, by Roald Dahl.

"'Why did you do all this for me?' he asked. 'I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.' 'You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing.'"

Charlotte's Web, by E. B. White.

“There are many Beths in the world, shy and quiet, sitting in corners till needed, and living for others so cheerfully that no one sees the sacrifices till the little cricket on the hearth stops chirping, and the sweet, sunshiny presence vanishes, leaving silence and shadow behind.” 

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott.

“It occurred to him that strength was quite different from toughness and that being vulnerable wasn't quite the same as being weak.” 

Goodnight Mister Tom, by Michelle Magorian.

Did I pick any of your favourite children's books? I'd love to know which other children's books you recommend.

Edinburgh Zoo Nights

I spent the last Friday night in June roaming around Edinburgh Zoo. I hadn't been adopted by the monkey house (thanks, dad), choosing the much easier option of buying tickets for Edinburgh Zoo Nights.

Edinburgh Zoo Nights are special adults-only events held after the regular zoo opening hours are over. As well as getting to wander around the zoo after-hours, Edinburgh Zoo puts on special entertainment for the evening, including face painters, musicians, a silent disco, street performers and comedy shows. If, like me, your mind is never far from your next meal, Edinburgh Zoo have got us covered with a huge selection of food kiosks laid out, which means guests can choose from burgers, fish and chips, noodles, burritos, hot dogs and pizza. There's also plenty to satisfy a sugar craving with a sweetie shop stuffed full of ice cream, fizzy juice, sweets, chocolate bars and cupcakes - I had my first ever Irn Bru float and it was ah-may-zing. 

Of course, at an adults-only event, the bars were a big pull. We all know that walking around the zoo can be thirsty work, especially as Edinburgh Zoo is built on a very steep hill, so bars dotted around the grounds were very much appreciated! From beer to pitchers brimming with fruity cocktails to champagne served with salmon at a Pimms bar, there was plenty of choice for adults making the most of not having the kids in tow. 

I especially liked the cocktails serviced in the panda silly straw cups - if you're going to spend your Friday night at the zoo, you might as well fully embrace your inner child with a novelty cup! There were some birthday parties, and even a hen do, walking around the enclosures with their arms full of cocktail pitchers and their faces painted - it was nice to see people thinking a little outside of the box when it comes to celebrating (and a photograph of you and your best friends tipsy with your faces painted like tigers certainly would make a lovely 21st birthday memento!).

There was a lovely atmosphere in the zoo and no one took it too far by getting really drunk. It might have spoiled the ambiance somewhat to find someone passed out by the panda enclosure! I'm a huge animal lover, so, while the special entertainment is a wonderful bonus, I was most interested in seeing all of the animals while I was there. Unfortunately the panda enclosure is closed off at the moment because it's their breeding season - it's a shame we didn't get to see them this time, but it will be worth it if Edinburgh Zoo gets to welcome a baby panda to the family!

The keepers at Edinburgh Zoo are so friendly and seem really passionate about the animals that they care for. I got to handle a three-banded armadillo, which was so strange but so cute at the same time. It was nice to see how many people were interested in going to the animal talks: standing next to a group of men who were drinking beer and had their faces painted like lions at the penguin talk was a memorable, and slightly surreal, moment! 

I will definitely go back to Edinburgh Zoo Nights again next year: wandering around the zoo while it's full of fairy lights, music and animals out of their beds is a lovely way to spend a summer evening. I think other zoos do similar events - I know that London Zoo does regular after-hours events and I even went to a sleepover at Belfast Zoo once! - and I really recommend them as something very special to do with your Friday night.

The sweetie shop, bunting and fairy lights are my own photographs, but the rest are from the Edinburgh Zoo Nights Facebook page. I was clearly too distracted by the wonderful chaos around me to take more photographs! 
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